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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

Leicester and Aston Villa both drop points and suffer blows to their European aspirations

David McGoldrick scored the winner for Sheffield United against Villa, while Leicester were held 1-1 at Burnley.

Kasper Schmeichel saves from Chris Wood.
Kasper Schmeichel saves from Chris Wood.
Image: PA

Burnley 1-1 Leicester 

Sheffield United 1-0 Aston Villa

KASPER SCHMEICHEL CAME to injury-ravaged Leicester’s rescue with some vital saves at Burnley as the Foxes avoided three successive defeats for the first time under Brendan Rodgers with a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor. 

Elsewhere, Aston Villa’s European aspirations also suffered a blow in a shock 1-0 defeat to basement club Sheffield United, the game decided by a goal from former Irish international David McGoldrick. 

At Turf Moor, Matej Vydra’s first Premier League goal in more than a year was cancelled out by Kelechi Iheanacho’s fantastic first-half volley, with Schmeichel securing a point for a Leicester side without several first-team players including Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet, James Maddison, James Justin Wes Morgan, Harvey Barnes and Jonny Evans.

Schmeichel kept out headers from James Tarkowski and Chris Wood before Ashley Westwood hit a post and although Leicester rallied late on, with Youri Tielemans also denied by the goal frame, the sides settled for a 1-1 draw.

Leicester remain third while Burnley moved six points clear of the relegation zone. 

Wilfried Ndidi was played into trouble by Hamza Choudhury’s loose return pass, intercepted by Vydra, whose first touch took him past the makeshift centre-half before he then lashed a left-footed strike high into the net after just four minutes.

It was a confident finish from a player who last scored in the league on February 22 last year, but Leicester slowly found their footing after a lethargic start as Choudhury came close to atoning for his mistake.

Having been left unmarked in the area, the midfielder’s finish into the ground was tipped over by Pope while Tielemans had penalty appeals waved away after a tangle of legs with Charlie Taylor on the right side of the area.

Yet Leicester’s endeavour was rewarded after 34 minutes as Ndidi’s floated pass over the top was finished with aplomb by Iheanacho, expertly volleying beyond Nick Pope after letting the ball drift over his right shoulder.

Schmeichel saved brilliantly low down to his left after James Tarkowski had risen highest at the back post to head Dwight McNeil’s cross towards goal, while at the other end Pope tipped away Tielemans’ powerful shot.

Schmeichel was twice at full stretch after the interval to get fingertips to Wood’s header and then a deflected strike from the New Zealand striker, making his first start in a month following injury.

Sheffield United, meanwhile, showed there is fight left in them yet after battling with 10 men for more than half an hour to win 1-0 against Aston Villa.

britain-soccer-premier-league David McGoldrick celebrates his winning goal. Source: Tim Goode

David McGoldrick’s first-half goal put the bottom-of-the-table Blades in front but they faced an uphill task to hang on to that lead when Phil Jagielka was sent off early in the second half.

But the remaining 10 Blades stood firm and defended solidly and will feel they have kept alive their faint hopes of pulling off the greatest of escapes.

Villa, meanwhile, still harbour hopes of European qualification but must show they are capable of winning without captain Jack Grealish, absent again at Bramall Lane with a lower leg injury, if those ambitions are to be realised.

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McGoldrick put the Blades in front after 31 minutes when he turned home George Baldock’s driven cross-shot, sticking out his leg to divert the ball into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Traore almost equalised immediately with what would have been a goal of the season contender. It was his own work, weaving through Oliver Norwood, Jagielka and Ethan Ampadu before curling a left-foot shot just a yard wide of the post.

Club-record signing Rhian Brewster sent a first-time shot straight at Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez as he toiled for his first goal since his arrival at Bramall Lane at the start of October.

Watkins crashed a header off the crossbar before the hosts were reduced to 10 men after 55 minutes after Phil Jagielka brought down El Ghazi.

Referee Robert Jones initially only issued Jagielka with a yellow card but, after being advised to take a look at the incident on the pitchside monitor, the official changed his decision to a red card and sent off the Blades defender.

It could turn out to be another controversial VAR decision as it is up for debate whether El Ghazi would have been away through on goal as Kean Bryan was trying his best to cover for Jagielka.

That left Villa 30 minutes to rescue a point against United’s 10 men, but they couldn’t find an equaliser in spite of the late introductions of Morgan Sanson and Ross Barkley.

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